The way I always remember the past is to clump periods of time together and attach an overriding feeling or gist. Consequently my personal history is chunked and categorised with the feeling each chunk evokes. Is that what everyone does?
The chunks' labels can be arbitrary and chunks can overlap. For example I can have a feeling for the time I lived in a particular house but also a feeling for a friendship that also spanned two different homes etc. I suspect this isn't unique to me but feel I might need to look for a little reassurance so I can deny anti-mainstreaming....again.
Other chunks can be decades. I suspect I am not alone here. What does the seventies evoke for you (feelings or thoughts?) or the eighties? Those two were so distinct. (The nineties and the noughties don't feel quite so discrete for me but can muster up a few 'gists').
A book I am reading at the moment also pointed out something else about the past to me: I(/we?) tend to arrogantly have a patronising attitude towards decades gone by - even those we were part of. My assumption is that while individuals from the past could be extremely bright the overall understanding of the world was relatively backward. The technology was so much more simple and people could not possibly have known what they were doing as well as they do now. We have progressed so much - surely the brightest of our time must have a better foundation of knowledge to draw on that the brightest of decades ago.
However, this paragraph in Engleby by Sebastian Faulks put me right. The most basic and impactful problems of humankind appear immune from our 'progress'.
It's written by 'Engleby' in 1973....
Don't patronise me if you read this thirty years on, will you? Don't think of me as old-fashioned, wearing silly clothes or some nonsense like that. Don't talk crap about 'the seventies', will you, as we do now about 'the forties'? I breathe air like you. I feel food in my bowel and the lingering taste of tea in my mouth. I'm alive as you are. I'm as modern as you are, in my way - I couldn't be more modern. My reality is as complex as yours; the atoms making me and this world in their random movements are as terrible and strange and beautiful as those that make your world. Yours are in fact my atoms, reused. And you too, on your front edge of breaking time, Mr 2003, will be the object of condescending curiosity to the future - to Ms 2033. So don't patronise me. (Unless of course you have completely overturned and improved my world, bringing peace and plenty and a cure for cancer and schizophrenia, and a unified scientific explanation of the universe comprehensible to all and a satisfactory answer to the philosophical and religious questions of our time. In which case you would be permitted to patronise primitive little 1973. Well have you done those things? Got a cure for the common cold yet? Have you? Thought not. How's your 2003 world then? A few wars? Some genocide? Some terrorism? Drugs? Abuse of children? High crime rate? Materialistic obsession? More cars? Blah-blah pop music? Vulgar newspapers? Porn? Still wearing jeans? Thought so. Yes you've had an extra thirty years to sort it out).
Well that told us! And told us in an unquestionable and therefore powerful way!